Immediate past chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Cross River State, John Ochala says his party had waited for the arrival of the state governor, Prof Ben Ayade for a long time. He said in this interview with CHIEMEKA ADINDU that the PDP had caged him for too long which was one of the contributing factors for his non performance.
How do you feel about the defection of the state governor to your party, the APC?
It was very strategic and it’s very timely given the economic and social situations in the country. It shows him as a real statesman, somebody who really cares about situations first, putting situations first before other considerations. We see it that he is coming to join hands with the president to see how they can proffer solutions to the challenges in the country; so it’s a good one. We have been expecting him all along and finally he came.
So how does the move affect the political dynamics in the state?
It will affect it as there will be a lot of realignments, but at the end of the day, it’s for the betterment of the majority of our people, you know, like somebody who has been in a system and the system does not allow him to fully express himself. He’s a man of the time so I want to believe that we have so many people and leaders in the APC that have great ideas and by the time he sits with some of them and rubs mind together, he would be motivated more into carrying out his dreams and aspirations for the state and the country at large.
Are you saying that he was not given the platform to express his aspirations by the PDP?
Exactly, that is why he left. If you are in an unfriendly environment, you will not be able to express yourself freely. You know we’re dynamic in the progressives family and he is also a dynamic governor, I think he is going to perform better since he’s now in a more friendly environment.
There are speculations that his defection is likely to have a link with his quest to regain the Cross River north senatorial seat as well as avoiding being probed at the end of his tenure
Cross River north senatorial election is at the tribunal and I don’t think he has the third eye to know what the outcome will be. The outcome will go anywhere and we don’t know until the judges come out with their verdict; so I wonder what that means. And talking about running away from EFCC, those bringing forth such allegations are they saying that there are no APC governors or leaders that have been invited by the EFCC? I think it’s just a thing of their imagination.
The APC candidate is the one who filed the suit and Senator Stephen Odey is reported to have joined the APC. Won’t this be a fight against oneself?
No, it will not be. The exciting thing there is that it has gone through all the processes, it’s just waiting for judgment. When the judgment comes out, it is wherever it goes, we’re in a family, and we will now decide what to do. I don’t think it will be an issue; you cannot preempt what the judgment will be so I don’t think there’s any clash of interest.
When he was received by leaders of the APC, he was introduced as the leader of the APC in the state. And we know that the PDP complained of him hijacking the party structure as a result of this same status. Do you sense a similar thing happening to the APC? And what will happen to the already existing structures of the party in the state?
The truth is that as he has come, and he has not come alone; he will come with his team of supporters. He will come with tens of thousands of people; they will need to fuse with those they are meeting on ground, that is what is going to happen and I don’t think there’s going to be a fiat. It will not, in fact, he has given instruction to his followers that those who believe in him and are coming with him, they should go to their various wards to register with the party. So he’s going to consult because you’re coming to your friend’s place, you’re going to your brother’s place you’re definitely going to know the tradition and how they operate and all of that.
Will you now say that the APC has regained power in the state and will also lead even in 2023?
This one is a fait accompli. It’s for the take; we’re just waiting for time. APC will definitely reclaim the power.